Pakistanis are from all accounts rather miffed that President Barack Obama did not stop in Islamabad as part of his Asian tour. The officer corps is the angriest, but it is viewed widely as a put-down.
From a Pakistani point of view, the US and Pakistan have been allies since the 1950s. They stood shoulder to shoulder in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union’s brutal occupation of Afghanistan. After the September 11 attacks, Pakistan abandoned the Taliban and so made it easier for them to be overthrown, even though they had been to some degree a project of the Inter-Services Intelligence. In recent years, the Pakistani army has waged hard-fought campaigns in Bajaur, Swat, and South Waziristan against Taliban elements, losing hundreds of troops’ lives in the process.
So, Pakistanis ask, why is Washington slighting us after we’ve hung together?
Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf said that Obama is “not sensitive” to the Pakistani people.
According to the USG Open Source Center translation, columnist Ghazala Tauhid of Jang Urged the US To try to resolve the Kashmir issue:
‘ Claiming that peace cannot be established until issues, like the Kashmir dispute, are resolved, the report states: “If US really wants to establish peace in South Asia, in his capacity as the head of the superpower and above all, being the recipient of noble peace award, Barack Obama will have to pay immediate attention on the outstanding disputes, which have been the cause of controversy between different nations and a cause for the ongoing unrest in the world. In fact, peace cannot be established in letter and spirit until all these problems are peacefully resolved.” ‘
India annexed Muslim-majority Kashmir after the 1947 Partition that created Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India out of the old British India. (India never held the UNSC-mandated popular referendum in Kahsmir on its disposition, which is why I used the word ‘annex.’ Although the Hindu raja of Kashmir acceded to India, this means little; the Muslim Nawab of Hyderabad opposed joining India and Nehru simply invaded and deposed him.) Kashmir has been in rebellion since the late 1980s, seeking independence, and is heavily garrisoned with Indian troops.
In fact, the Indian government bristles at the idea of outside involvement in the crisis,and there is little Obama can do about it.
Pakistanis also often get angry at the idea sometimes broached by American politicians, of handing Afghanistan over to India as a security problem and for economic development. Dr Maria Sultan, head of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, said in an interview in Jang:
“The United States wants to assign more roles to India in Afghanistan. However, instead of proving helpful, the Indian role has becoming a cause in further deepening the crisis. The terrorism spread by the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Pakistan through Afghanistan continues in the name of India-US cooperation in war on terror. The fact is that the United States cannot get an honorable way out from Afghanistan and also cannot find the solution of the Afghan problem without giving Pakistan a full-fledged role in that country. The truth is that the way to peace in Afghanistan passes through Srinagar. Therefore, if US President Barack Obama really wants peace in the world and South Asia, instead of maintaing silence, he will have to play the role of an effective mediator.”
The conspiratorial Pakistani conviction that Indian secret agents play a role in causing civil disturbances in Pakistan is probably mostly untrue, but it is unshakable.
India’s gross domestic product is a little over $1 trillion annually. Pakistan’s is roughly $165 bn. There are 250 million middle class Indians who form a larger market than the whole country of Brazil for US goods.
Thus, Pakistan cannot compete with India as a potential trade partner for the US.
Obama had no intention of bringing Kashmir up publicly in Delhi (he isn’t that clueless). As for visiting Islamabad, he’ll do that next year on his way to Kabul.